IHG One Rewards is here – what do we think? (Part 1 – earning points and status)
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IHG, the hotel chain behind InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc, has launched IHG One Rewards.
This is the long awaited relaunch of IHG Rewards (nee IHG Rewards Club, nee Priority Club etc).
Quick summary – it’s hugely impressive compared to what I was expecting. In one swoop, IHG has gone from bottom of the pile, by a long way, to level pegging with Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. In some ways, IHG One Rewards is better than those programmes.
IHG has also been very clever. The benefits you get from simply having status (which is free from a credit card in some countries, or from buying Ambassador status) are modest. You need to do the equivalent number of ‘heads in beds’ nights to get real value.
If you do enough nights, the benefits include:
- guaranteed lounge access
- free breakfast at all brands which currently charge for it
- suite upgrades which are confirmed 14 days before arrival and are guaranteed if a standard suite is being sold for cash (valid on ‘pay on departure’ cash stays)
The lounge and suite upgrade benefits are ONLY available if you earn your status via stays, not via getting comped status.
One piece of good news is that you CAN continue to earn status points via the UK IHG credit cards, albeit these are now closed to new applicants. This benefit has been ended for US credit card holders, so if you see any online comments to the contrary then this is why.
If you want top tier Diamond status, you are going to need to fully commit to IHG, whether that be through $12,000 of annual pre-tax spend or 70 nights.
How do you earn status in IHG One Rewards?
The programme has gained an additional tier – Silver.
The confusing Spire name for the top tier has been retired, in favour of Diamond.
The new status levels, from 17th April, are:
- Silver – requires 10 nights
- Gold – requires 20 nights or 40,000 base points
- Platinum – requires 40 nights or 60,000 base points
- Diamond – requires 70 nights or 120,000 base points
At most IHG brands, you earn 10 base points per $1 of pre-tax spending.
For comparison, here are the old levels, albeit these numbers were lower in 2021 due to covid mitigation measures:
- Gold – requires 10 nights or 10,000 base points
- Platinum – requires 40 nights or 40,000 base points
- Spire – requires 75 nights or 75,000 base points
Reward nights will continue to count towards status and also count towards the new Milestone Rewards (see Part 3).
How many bonus points will I earn per stay?
These are the new base point bonuses earned on paid stays, which kick in from 17th April:
- Silver – 20%
- Gold – 40%
- Platinum – 60%
- Diamond – 100%
Here are the old rates:
- Gold – 10%
- Platinum – 50%
- Spire – 100%
Here is a graphic provided by IHG summarising the new structure – note that the top tier is now designated by black imagery and not red:
In general, bonus levels at the bottom end are increasing. The biggest difference comes for people who do 20 nights per year, who will now be getting a 40% Gold bonus rather than a 10% bonus under the old programme.
A few thoughts about qualifying for status ….
The base point requirement increases sharply
As you can see, qualifying via base points has become substantially more difficult.
This is reflected in the new benefits, however, as Part 2 of this article will show.
Credit card points will no longer count towards status
Historically IHG Rewards was very liberal in the type of points which counted towards status.
I used to earn Spire Elite status by transferring points from Virgin Flying Club to IHG Rewards. It was a good deal, especially as one of the benefits of earning Spire Elite status was 25,000 bonus points.
At one time, credit card sign-up bonuses also counted towards status. This was removed a few years ago.
From early June, points from credit card spend will no longer count towards status.
Earning top tier status via spend is going to be difficult
Take Diamond. Based on 10 base points per $1, you’d need to spend $12,000 to earn status via spend. The alternative is completing 70 nights. You’d need to average more than $171 per night excluding taxes before you’d earn Diamond based on spend rather than nights.
You don’t want to be earning status via spend
As we will show in Part 3, the real benefits in IHG One Rewards come from the number of nights you do each year and not your elite status.
Someone who earns Diamond status via $12,000 of spending over a couple of weeks at InterContinental Maldives will be a lot worse off than someone who earns it via 70 nights at a Holiday Inn Express.
Intriguingly, the nights requirement has come down
The new top-tier Diamond status will ‘only’ require 70 nights per year. This is a drop of five nights on the old threshold for Spire, albeit that for 2020 and 2021 this was reduced to 55 nights as a covid measure.
This may be reflection of the fact that, post the pandemic, the number of people doing 70 nights per year in hotels – in total, let alone at IHG – is going to be smaller than it was.
The top tier 25,000 points achievement bonus is going
Under IHG Rewards, you received a 25,000 point bonus when you achieved or renewed Spire Elite status.
(You had to request this online, it was not automatic. There was a Plan B alternative of giving Platinum status to a friend.)
This benefit has now been dropped. However, as you will see in Part 3, it has been replaced by Milestone Rewards – click here.
Click here for Part 2, which looks at the new status benefits of IHG One Rewards.
The IHG website for IHG One Rewards is here.
The terms and conditions for the various member benefits are here. You need to scroll down to the IHG One Rewards section.
IHG One Rewards update – June 2023:
Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is currently running a special bonus points promotion. It is worth either 2,000 points for every two nights or 10,000 points for every four nights – you choose! Our full article is here and you can register here.
New to IHG One Rewards? Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.
IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 7th June.
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.